Cover image for The fifth elephant : a novel of Discworld
Title:
The fifth elephant : a novel of Discworld
Author:
Pratchett, Terry.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
[New York] : HarperCollins Publishers, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
321 pages ; 25 cm.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
680 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.0 16.0 54574.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.2 23 Quiz: 22182 Guided reading level: NR.
ISBN:
9780061051579

9780061092190
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Everyone knows that the world is flat, and supported on the backs of four elephants. But weren't there supposed to be five? Indeed there were, and what happened to the fifth elephant is only one of the many perplexing mysteries solved in this new novel by today's most celebrated fantasy humorist.

Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent Discworld novels have been number one bestsellers in England for more than a decade, securing him a position in the pantheon of satire and parody alongside Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen. Pratchett's fame, like his imagination, is now going global--if such a term can be used in connection with an author whose creation is so uncompromisingly (though no longer quite so unfashionably) flat.

Which brings us back to the missing mythical pachyderm. The Fifth Elephant begins, like so many of Pratchett's satirical inventions, with an invitation. This one is both royal and engraved, requiring that Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork constabulary attend as both detective and diplomat. The one role he relishes; the other, well, requires ruby tights.

Where cops (even those clad in tights) go, crime of course, follows--and an attempted assassination and a theft soon lead to a desperate chase from the low halls of Discworld royalty to the legendary fat mines of Uberwald, where lard is found in underground seams along with tusks and teeth and other precious ivory artifacts.

Vimes's "elephant" adventure is as profound as it is hilarious, sending up every aspect of modern life from royalty (a British specialty) to bureaucrats (inescapable anywhere), from cops (especially those unusually dressed) to criminals (who, like fools, have their own guild), from fantasy literature to satire itself.

The world is busy discovering Terry Pratchett. Shouldn't you be doing your part?


Author Notes

Terry Pratchett was on born April 28, 1948 in Beaconsfield, United Kingdom. He left school at the age of 17 to work on his local paper, the Bucks Free Press. While with the Press, he took the National Council for the Training of Journalists proficiency class. He also worked for the Western Daily Press and the Bath Chronicle. He produced a series of cartoons for the monthly journal, Psychic Researcher, describing the goings-on at the government's fictional paranormal research establishment, Warlock Hall. In 1980, he was appointed publicity officer for the Central Electricity Generating Board with responsibility for three nuclear power stations.

His first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971. His first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. He became a full-time author in 1987. He wrote more than 70 books during his lifetime including The Dark Side of the Sun, Strata, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites, Mort, Sourcery, Truckers, Diggers, Wings, Dodger, Raising Steam, Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales, and The Shephard's Crown. He was diagnosis with early onset Alzheimer's disease in 2007. He was knighted for services to literature in 2009 and received the World Fantasy award for life achievement in 2010. He died on March 12, 2015 at the age of 66.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It is well known that Pratchett's Discworld is supported by four elephants standing on the back of a giant tortoise. Once there was a fifth elephant, which fell off the tortoise's back and crashed onto Discworld with a mighty impact, leaving behind rich deposits of minerals and fat. Now \x86 berwald, the country that has most of the deposits, faces a succession crisis among the dwarfs, because the Scone of Stone, their emblem of kingship, has been stolen. With a motley but effective team of aides, Chief Constable Vimes and his wife arrive as ambassadors from Ankh-Morporkh to solve the mystery and prevent civil war among the dwarfs, werewolves, and vampires of \x86 berwald. Vimes needs all the help he can get, as the werewolves, led by one Wolfgang, who would have been at home in the Waffen SS, are busily trying to take over \x86 berwald by throwing the other races into chaos. As usual, Pratchett satirizes everything in sight and a few things buried in the subtext, always with a great knowledge of and fondness for his fellow primates, even in their more foolish moments. He never lets a proper tone flag; thus, in the midst of all the satire, Vimes' death struggle with the werewolves is as grim as any thriller's climax, and the growing love between Captain Carrot and Corporal Angua the werewolf is handled straight. Pratchett is now inviting comparison with Kurt Vonnegut, but if he ends up with a reputation equivalent only to that of P. G. Wodehouse, the world will be the better for his having written. --Roland Green


Publisher's Weekly Review

Acclaimed British author Pratchett continues to distinguish himself from his colleagues with clever plot lines and genuinely likable characters in this first-rate addition to his long-running Discworld fantasy series (Carpe Jugulum, etc.). This time around, the inhabitants of Discworld's Ankh-Morpork have turned their attentions in the direction of Uberwald--a country rich in valuable minerals and high-quality fat deposits. (The fifth elephant, it seems, left all these when he or she crashed and burned in Uberwald at the beginning of time.) Ankh-Morpork's policeman Sam Vimes has been sent there to represent his people at a coronation--and to find the recently stolen, rock-hard and symbolically important (at least to the Dwarf population) Scone of Stone. As he tells Vimes's story (and surrounding ones), Pratchett cheerfully takes readers on an exuberant tale of mystery and invention, including the efforts of a clique of neo-Nazi werewolves to destabilize Uberwald. Along the way, he skewers everything from monarchy to fascism, as well as communism and capitalism, oil wealth and ethnic identities, Russian plays, immigration, condoms and evangelical Christianity--in short, most everything worth talking about. Not as perfect as Pratchett's Hogfather but in the same class, this novel is a heavyweight of lightness. 200,000 ad/promo; 7-city author tour. (Apr.) FYI: At the end of The Fifth Elephant is appended a "handy travel guide" to the "World of Terry Pratchett," including a character guide to the Discworld novels and a Discworld crossword puzzle. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

YA-A book that's part mystery, part action-adventure, and all funny. Someone has stolen the original Scone of Stone from a dwarf vault in šberwald and its replica. The new Low King of the dwarves cannot be crowned without it, and the current candidate for the throne is more moderate than certain factions would like. The fifth elephant of the title is the mythical beast responsible for providing the mountains of šberwald with their rich deposits of gold, silver, iron and fat-the real reason that dwarven politics matter in Ankh-Morpork. While this is not the best story to begin an exploration of the "Discworld" (HarperCollins), fans of the series will enjoy it. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The Fifth Elephant Chapter One They say the world is flat and supported on the back of four elephants who themselves stand on the back of a giant turtle. They say that the elephants, being such huge beasts, have bones of rock and iron, and nerves of gold for better conductivity over long distances. They say that the fifth elephant came screaming and trumpeting through the atmosphere of the young world all those years ago and landed hard enough to split continents and raise mountains. No one actually saw it land, which raised the interesting philosophical point: When millions of tons of angry elephant come spinning through the sky, but there is no one to hear it, does it-philosophically speaking-make a noise? And if there was no one to see it hit, did it actually hit? In other words, wasn't it just a story for children, to explain away some interesting natural occurrences? As for the dwarfs, whose legend it is, and who mine a lot deeper than other people, they say that there is a grain of truth in it. On a clear day, from the right vantage point on the Ramtops, a watcher could see a very long way across the plains, If it was high rock and iron in their dead form, as they are now, but living rock and iron. The dwarfs have quite an inventive mythology about minerals, summer, they could count the columns of dust as the ox trains plodded on at a top speed of two miles an hour, each two pulling a train of two wagons carrying four tons each. Things took a long time to get anywhere, but when they did, there was certainly a lot of them. To the cities of the Circle Sea they carried raw material, and sometimes people who were off to seek their fortune and a fistful of diamonds. To the mountains they brought manufactured goods, rare things from across the oceans, and people who had found wisdom and a few scars. There was usually a day's traveling between each convoy. They turned the landscape into an unrolled time machine. On a clear day, you could see last Tuesday. Heliographs twinkled in the distant air as the columns flashed messages back and forth about bandit presence, cargoes and the best place to get double egg, treble chips and a steak that overhung the plate all around. Lots of people traveled on the carts. It was cheap, it beat walking, and you got there eventually. Some people traveled for free. The driver of one wagon was having problems with his team. They were skittish. He'd expect this in the mountains, where all sorts of wild creatures might regard the oxen as a traveling meal. Here there was nothing more dangerous that cabbages, wasn't there? Behind him, down in a narrow space between the loads of cut lumber, something slept. It was just another day in Ankh-Morpork ... Sergeant Colon balanced on a shaky ladder at one end of the Brass Bridge, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares. He clung by one hand to the tall pole with the box on top of it, and with the other he held a homemade picture book up to the slot in the front of the box. "And this is another sort of cart," he said. "Got it?" "'S," said a very small voice from within the box. "O-kay," said Colon, apparently satisfied. He dropped the book and pointed down the length of the bridge. "Now, you see those two markers what has been painted across the cobbles?" "And they mean ... ?" "If-a-cart-g's-tween-dem-in-less'na-minute-'s-goin-too-fas'," the little voice parroted. "Well done. And then you ... ?" "Painta pic-cher." "Taking care to show ... ?" "Drivr's-face-or-cart-lisens." "And if it's nighttime you ... ?" "Use-der-sal'mander-to-make-it-brite ... "Well done, Rodney. And one of us will come along every day and collect your pictures. Got everything you want?" "What's that, Sergeant?" Colon looked down at the very large, brown upturned face, and smiled. "Afternoon, All," he said, climbing ponderously down the ladder. "What you're looking at, Mister Jolson, is the modern Watch for the new millenienienum ... num." "'S a bit big, Fred," said All Jolson, looking at it critically. "I've seen lots of smaller ones." "Watch as in City Watch, All." "Ah, right." "Anyone goes too fast around here and Lord Vetinari'll be looking at his picture next morning. The iconographs do not lie, All." "Right, Fred. 'Cos they're too stupid." "His Lordship's got fed up with carts speeding over the bridge, see, and asked us to do something about it. I'm Head of Traffic now, you know." "Is that good, Fred?" "I should just think so!" said Sergeant Colon expansively. "It's up to me to keep the, er, arteries of the city from clogging up, leadin' to a complete breakdown of commerce and ruination for us all. Most vital job there is, you could say." "And it's just you doing it, is it?" The Fifth Elephant . Copyright © by Terry Pratchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.